The Sound of Red Returning
By Sue Duffy
09 December 2011
I was really excited to read The Sound of Red Returning because… well, MUSIC. Liesel Bower is a famed pianist who’s mentor was murdered for being a Russian spy. Fifteen years after the fact, she’s targeted for allegedly having an important piece of information that her deceased mentor may’ve accidentally left in her care—but she doesn’t know what it is, no one is telling her, and now she’s caught up in the international political intrigue between the United States and Russia. Where can she turn, except to her music?
I didn’t realize until after I’d requested this book that it’s the first in a trilogy. Well, at least it’s the first and not the second or third, right? I honestly don’t know how I feel about books that are first in a series when they don’t stand alone well, as I don’t think this one does. That is to say, it’s clear there’s something coming—the other two books in the trilogy, obviously—but I really want the first book to be the opening into a brand new world (like walking into a secret garden) and simultaneously a world in itself (like, you know, walking into a secret garden).
That aside, let’s talk about the story. I liked it. There are more than fifty chapters (not kidding!), but they’re short (usually no more than three pages), so it evens out. I like Duffy’s writing style. I wasn’t confused by the beginning as some other reviewers have been, so maybe that’s where I should shrug and say YMMV. I have some background-by-osmosis in classical music, so I didn’t have much trouble with that part of the story, either.
I was, of course, not surprised (and not really impressed) by the god stuff. I’m not going to lie, here: I’m not a Christian, and I sometimes feel like a spy myself while reading “Christian fiction”… I guess I’m always hoping that someone somewhere will write the gods the way I see them, but I’m obviously looking in the wrong places—not least because most/all Christians deny the existence of other gods besides theirs. That’s their prerogative, I guess, but I have yet to read any version of the Christian god that impressed upon me the need/desire to convert or even think about it more seriously than “What? Again?” Another reviewer wrote that (italics in the original)
The Sound of Red Returning made me meditate on my prayer life. It is not easy to grab for Jesus while running from danger. It is so much easier to learn about His character while life is quiet and simple.
I have actually found the opposite to be true in practice. It’s easy for my friends and loved ones to call upon Jesus or the Holy Spirit or their god (etc.) in times of great need—like when Liesl is running for her life—and then forget everything they said once they’re safe again, and it’s quiet and calm. I’m not saying I don’t do this, too, but I don’t claim to have the same relationship with Jesus as most people in the United States do, so. My relationships with my deities are more complicated than simply worship and loyal devotion. Not that that’s a bad thing, if that’s what you’re looking for, I guess, but the gods I follow would rather I have a brain than simply sit in the pew on Sunday mornings.
But I’ve gotten off-topic. Where was I? The Sound of Red Returning, right. Besides the god thing, I didn’t like the insertion of the romantic love interest—who doesn’t even show up until chapter nine (page 58, to be precise). It seemed… contrived, I guess. And I don’t think that the CIA and other official authorities would’ve allowed Cade and his grandfather—decent characters though they may have been—anywhere near Liesl until after the spy thing had been resolved. I’m just sayin’. And speaking of the CIA; I don’t work for the government in any capacity, but someone else mentioned that the agents were portrayed as bumbling… I, sadly, have no problem imagining the actual, real-life CIA being so unorganized and ill-fitted for their work. I mean, the phrase “It’s good enough for government work” exists for a reason.
Overall, I think this book was okay. The writing was the high point for me, and the music. The story? Eh. It wasn’t terrible, but it’s not the best thing I’ve ever read, either.
DISCLAIMER: I received The Sound of Red Returning free from LitFuse Publicity in return for a review of the book. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Read other reviews and learn more about the book on the blog tour’s main page.